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Parshas Noach - Rishon with Rashi

Hashem tells Noach to build a Teiva, which he does. Still, none of the people learn from what he is doing to do teshuvah.

This week’s parsha starts with the words “Eileh Toldos Noach,” “Noach’s children are…”

But instead of telling us the names of Noach’s children, first the Torah tells us that Noach is a tzadik! Because really, the good things we do are also like our children. The Torah tells us about these “children” — the Maasim Tovim — first!

Then the Torah tells us about his Gashmius children:

Noach had three sons: Sheim (he was the middle, but the most important one, like we’ll see later), Cham (the youngest), and Yafes (the oldest).

The Torah tells us how the world looked at that time.

1,536 years after Hashem made the world, the whole world was full of Resha’im. They didn’t get married in a holy way, they served Avodah Zarah, and, everyone was stealing from each other. Hashem decided to bring a Mabul on the world.

Hashem told Noach to build a huge Teiva. He should build it himself, so it will take a long time! Noach will be able to talk to a lot of people who ask him what he is doing, and maybe some of them will do Teshuvah.

The Teiva should be made of Atzei Gofer, a kind of wood — warning people that the Mabul will be with water that is Gofris — polluted with sulfur! It will also need to be waterproof on the inside AND the outside since the water will be so strong.

The Teiva should be 300 Amos long, 50 Amos wide, and 30 Amos tall! Hashem asked Noach to make a Tzohar for the Teiva. Rashi says that this is either a window or a stone that will bring light. The door should be on the side of the Teiva, so water won’t rain in. The Teiva will have 3 floors — the top for Noach’s family, the middle for the animals, and the bottom floor for garbage.

Hashem warned Noach what would happen with the Mabul: “I’m going to agree with the Malachim who said not to make people! I am going to make a Mabul to destroy everything. The water will mix everything up, and everything will be underwater for a whole year and get rotten!” Hashem promised Noach that he would be OK though: The food in the Teiva won’t go bad, and nobody will kill Noach even when he says what he’s doing! His whole family will be saved — but they shouldn’t have any more children while they are on the Teiva.

Noach built the Teivah exactly the way Hashem told him to do.

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120 - 134

Today we say the 15 Shir Hamaalos, which Dovid Hamelech made to be said on the 15 steps that lead from the Ezras Noshim into the Azara in the Beis Hamikdash!

Kapitel Kuf-Chof-Beis talks about when Yidden go up to Yerushalayim. Dovid Hamelech calls Yerushalayim an “Ir Shechubra La Yachdav” — “a city that is connected together.”

What is this talking about? Together with WHAT?

In the Gemara it says that there are TWO Yerushalayims! There is a Yerushalayim Shel Maalah, a ruchnius’dike city in Shomayim, and Yerushalayim Shel Matah — the city of Yerushalayim that we see. They are both connected!

The Gemara says that Hashem doesn’t go into the Gashmius Yerushalayim until He goes into Yerushalayim Shel Maalah, the ruchnius’dike Yerushalayim.

What makes Hashem go into these two Yerushalayims? It’s because of things WE do!

The Tzemach Tzedek explains that there are two things that bring Hashem into the two Yerushalayims — Teshuvah Tata’ah and Teshuvah Ila’ah.

When we do Teshuvah, it brings Geulah, bringing Hashem’s Shechinah back into Yerushalayim!

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Igeres Hakodesh Siman Chof-Hey

We are learning about the Emunah we have, that everything that happens is from Hashem, and what it says about this in Kabbalah.

Yesterday we said that Hashem makes the world again from nothing every second!

The chayus that Hashem gives to the world has many names:

- In Tanach, it is called Dvar Hashem — Hashem’s word.
- In the Gemara it is called the Shechinah.
- In the Zohar it is called Ima Tata’ah and Matrunisa — which means a mother and a queen, that give chayus to their children and subjects.
- In Kabbalah it is called Malchus.

In Kabbalah, when it speaks about the chayus of Hashem called Malchus, it says that there are levels of Malchus that give chayus in different ways:

- There is the Malchus from the world of Atzilus that gives chayus for big neshamos like Adam Harishon, Moshe Rabbeinu and the Neviim.

- There is a level of Malchus from a lower Ruchniyus world called Beriyah that gives chayus to neshamos that aren’t as big, and another level from the world of Yetzirah.

- And there is the level of Malchus of Asiyah, which gives chayus to our Gashmiyus world and everything that is in it.

IY”H in tomorrow’s Tanya, we will see how Hashem gives chayus in a way of Golus to even kelipah. Then we will be able to understand what the Baal Shem Tov said to do if there is someone who gets their chayus from kelipah that is bothering you during davening. We should think that it is from the chayus of Hashem, which is in Golus, and Hashem is making it happen to bring us to put more effort into our Avodas Hashem!

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Chof-Zayin Tishrei

Even someone who grows up in a frum, Chassidishe home will need to make their own decision that they want to live a life of Yiddishkeit and Chassidus. In today’s Hayom Yom, the Rebbe reminds us that this choice is a very good one, because the Torah gives us the highest quality of life possible.

Some people think that living like it says in the Torah is only important for a person’s neshama. But that’s not true!

The Torah teaches a Yid how to live their whole life — from when they are born until they pass away. The Torah gives a person a healthy way of thinking, tools to make their midos into the best type of midos, and the right way to have a good relationship with Hashem and with other people.

A person who lives a life according to Torah and the way the Chachomim teach us lives the BEST kind of life, in Ruchnius AND in Gashmius!

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Shiur #112 - Mitzvas Asei #95

Today’s mitzvah is that if someone makes a promise and changes their mind, they have to go to a Rav or a Beis Din to take away the promise.

There are some mitzvos that are only a mitzvah to do if we need to do them. For example, it isn’t a mitzvah to become tomei so we can become tahor through the Parah Adumah, but if someone DOES become tomei, it’s a mitzvah to follow the halachos of how to become tahor again!

This is also that kind of mitzvah: It isn’t a mitzvah to change our mind about a promise, but if someone DOES, they need to follow the halachos of how to take away the promise. For a girl or a woman, her father or husband can take away certain promises (like we learn in Perek Yud-Alef and Yud-Beis of today’s Rambam), and a Rav or Beis Din can be mevatel promises for ANYONE.

We learn this mitzvah from the first aliyah of Parshas Matos. These pesukim teach how a father or husband can take away a neder. The way Chachomim do it is hinted to in the posuk from yesterday’s mitzvah, but the main place we learn it from is Torah Shebaal Peh.

In Gemara, this mitzvah is explained in Mesechta Nedarim.

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Hilchos Nedarim

In today’s Rambam, we learn more halachos about promises.

Perek Yud: We learn all kinds of halachos about a promise that has to do with time — like if someone makes a promise not to eat fruit for a day, or if the person says that they will save their bananas until it rains.

Perek Yud-Alef: We learn about what happens if a child (boy or girl) makes a promise in the year before their Bar or Bas Mitzvah. If a girl doesn’t live at home, and isn’t married yet, her promise is a promise! (If she does live at home or is married, her father or husband can take away the promise.)

Perek Yud-Beis: We learn about how a father or husband can take away a promise. One interesting halacha is that a father can take away ANY promise, but a husband can only take away a promise that will bother or annoy him or her or make it hard to stay married to his wife. We also learn that he can only take away the promise on the day he hears it — otherwise, the promise stays.

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Hilchos Klei Hamikdash - Perek Gimmel

The Leviim were split into two groups: One group did the opening and closing of the gates of the Beis Hamikdash (Sho’arim), and one did the singing (Meshorerim). Any of the Leviim could help guard the Beis Hamikdash at night.

The Leviim needed to train for 5 years before they could work in the Beis Hamikdash. In the times of the Mishkan they could only work until they were 50. But when they did the Avodah in the Beis Hamikdash, they could sing for as long as their voices were still good! And even afterwards, they could still help open and close the doors of the Beis Hamikdash.

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Chassidishe Parsha

Once at a farbrengen, the Rebbe spoke about how important it is to learn the Chassidishe parsha every week, the maamarim in Torah Ohr and Likutei Torah. The Rebbe said that this is not only for adults, but for kids too! Some people have a minhag to share a part of the Chassidishe Parsha even to children who are under Bar or Bas Mitzvah!

The Mabul happened in the times of Noach, but there is something that is like the Mabul in everyone’s life: The things we worry about. When someone is worried, it “floods” his head. Many people worry how Hashem will give them everything they need, like parnasa or health.

But there is a posuk in Shir Hashirim that teaches us that all of these worries can’t take away a person’s connection and love for Hashem. Not only that, they can make a person feel even CLOSER to Hashem!

All the things people worry about are Gashmius things, that have a strong chayus from Hashem hiding inside of them. When we use these things, WE get the chayus that was inside them! The extra chayus we can get from the Gashmius will make us even CLOSER to Hashem! When we use this chayus to help us daven and learn Torah, the chayus inside the Gashmius comes out, and becomes part of us.

So a person should never think that because he thinks about Gashmius all week, he can’t think about Hashem when he davens. The opposite is true: BECAUSE a person thinks about Gashmius all week, he got so much extra chayus that when he davens like a Chossid should on Shabbos, he will get to use all of that chayus to become so much closer to Hashem!

See Torah Ohr Parshas Noach

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Being Different

After Tishrei, it is time to start the regular part of the year! In a rally for children in the beginning of Cheshvan, the Rebbe taught an important lesson to keep in mind all year from Parshas Noach:

The Torah tells us that Noach was a tzaddik in his time. Even though all the other nations were not living the way Hashem wanted, Noach was different. He was careful to live in the right way.

This gives a koach to kids today too!

Sometimes the Yetzer will ask us, “Do you really think you can live a life of Torah and mitzvos when nobody else is? Look around at everyone else, they are so different than you! They wear different clothes, go to different schools, and have fun in different ways! You will look so strange if you act Jewish!”

We can answer this question because of what we learn in our Torah, in Parshas Noach! Even though Noach was alone in acting the way Hashem wanted to, he didn’t copy them! He kept doing what he knew was the right thing! And in the end, even though there was a big Mabul, he was able to build a whole new world.

And for us, it’s even easier! Noach was only one person, and nobody else around him was acting like he was. But we are not the only ones! There are tens of thousands of other soldiers in Tzivos Hashem, in every country and in every place! And we are not the first ones, either. We are part of many generations of Yidden, who were able to follow the Torah in every time and place since Matan Torah.

Knowing this gives us koach to be proud Yidden, even if it seems that everyone else is acting differently. Like Noach, we will know that we are doing the right thing!

See rally for children, Beis Cheshvan Tof-Shin-Mem-Gimmel

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Mesiras Nefesh

The Alter Rebbe says in Tanya that when we daven and learn Torah, it’s really a kind of Mesiras Nefesh.

Why? It doesn’t put us in danger!

The words “Mesiras Nefesh” mean “to give up the neshama.” When a person does Mesiras Nefesh, he gives up the life of his guf and returns his neshama to Hashem. We do the same thing, in a different way, when we daven!

We give up the life of our guf by not paying the guf as much attention as usual. We eat before if we need to, so that it won’t bother us in the middle of davening. We focus completely on the words of our tefillos and on our connection to Hashem. Our neshama is returned to the way it felt when it was in Gan Eden, when nothing Gashmius’dik distracted it!

That’s a kind of Mesiras Nefesh.

So when it comes time to stand before Hashem and daven, we need to do it in a way of Mesiras Nefesh. At least during Shema and Shemoneh Esrei (the most important parts of tefillah), we should forget about all of our Gashmius distractions. Only think about how the neshama stands before Hashem, pouring out its heart to Hashem, hoping to be connected to Him and do His Ratzon all day.

See Tanya end Perek Mem-Alef

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Bechanuni Na Bezos

In today’s Rambam, we learn about keeping our promises. Let’s learn about a promise that Hashem makes to Yidden, and we know that Hashem will keep it!

Sometimes a person wants to make conditions about their mitzvos. A person might think, “I will daven with kavana if Hashem makes me find my lost bicycle.”

We are not allowed to do this. It is called testing Hashem. Instead, we need to act in a way of “Tomim Tihiyeh Im Hashem Elokecha,” we do our mitzvos in a tmimus’dike way, without calculating what will happen afterwards. Not all of Hashem’s rewards happen right away or in a clear way, and we can’t make conditions for the mitzvos we do.

But there is one mitzvah that is different: Tzedakah!

For this mitzvah, Hashem says that we SHOULD test Him. We learn this from a posuk in Malachi, where Hashem says “Bechanuni Na Bezos,” “test me with this!” Hashem PROMISES that when we give tzedakah, we WILL see clear brachos!

The Rebbe once wrote about this to a Yid who had given a big donation to tzedakah.

The Rebbe told him that he was happy to see that Hashem’s bracha did come quickly! Soon after giving this big donation, the Yid was zoche to the biggest bracha that parents can have — their oldest son got married and began to build a beautiful Yiddishe home.

See Likutei Sichos vol 39 p. 294; Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deiah end of siman 247

לעילוי נשמת הרה״ח ר׳ דניאל יצחק ע״ה בן ר׳ אפרים שי׳ מאסקאוויץ
שליח כ"ק אדמו"ר נשיא דורנו למדינת אילינוי

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A Taste of Moshiach

During the Mabul, Hashem destroyed the world so it could be built again, but this time properly.

From all of the animals in the world, only the ones on the Teiva survived.

Even though the Teiva was big, there were very many kinds of animals. It was very crowded on the Teiva! But none of the animals fought.

Snakes stayed calmly next to birds, and lions lay down next to lambs. Everything was peaceful, just like it will be when Moshiach comes!

But when the Mabul ended, and all of the animals had to leave the Teiva, this peaceful time ended too. The lions went back to their chasing and attacking, and snakes tried to capture other animals for food again. The Moshiach’dike time was over.

Since Hashem was rebuilding the world, Hashem wanted to rebuild it with a little taste of Moshiach which is what happened on the Teivah. That would give us the koach later to keep working to bring Moshiach, when everyone, including animals, will be able to live peacefully — forever!

See Sefer Hasichos Tof-Shin-Nun parshas Noach, Yalkut Moshiach U’Geulah Al HaTorah Noach p. 25

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